Shalom Life | September 18, 2014

German Court Bans Circumcision of Young Boys

Jewish and Muslim groups outraged over ruling

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: June 27th, 2012 in News » World

German Court Bans Circumcision of Young Boys

A German court in Cologne ruled that circumcising young boys infringes on their right to be protected from grievous bodily harm on Tuesday, causing outrage from Jewish and Muslim groups who were upset with the ruling, according to multiple reports.

The decision came in the case of a doctor who was prosecuted for circumcising a four-year-old Muslim boy, who just two days later had to be treated post-operative bleeding, according to the Toronto Star.

But the court found that the child’s “fundamental right to bodily integrity” was more important than his parents’ fundamental rights to religious freedom, the New York Times reported.

The hospital doctor who treated the boy for the injury later called the police, but the doctor who performed the circumcision was acquitted because there was no law banning religious circumcision at the time.

The court ruled that the religious freedom “would not be unduly impaired” as the child would later have the option of deciding whether or not to have the circumcision.

“The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised,” the court added.

No age restriction or any specific details were given. The ruling will only apply to the Cologne area, but many fear that some doctors may now decline to do the procedure due to the possibility of charges brought upon them.

Jewish and Muslim groups in Germany were outraged by the decision, the first of its kind in the country, feeling that the ruling violates the right to religious freedom.

Approximately four million Muslims reside in Germany, in addition to over 100,000 Jews. Both religions value circumcisions as part of their respective religious practices.

In the United States, male circumcisions are quite popular as roughly 60 per cent of all newborn boys are circumcised, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 30 per cent of men worldwide are circumcised. In Germany however, only 11 per cent of boys are circumcised, CNN reported.

Circumcisions can lower HIV infection risk by about 60 per cent according to the WHO.

“Circumcision for young boys is a solid component of the Jewish religion and has been practiced worldwide for millennia,” said Dieter Graumann, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, who called the ruling an “unprecedented and dramatic intrusion” of the right to religious freedom and an “outrageous and insensitive” act.

“This religious right is respected in every country around the world,” he noted.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in New York released a statement on Wednesday calling circumcision of newborn male infants a "core religious rite of Judaism, practiced by Jews around the world” and asked German parliament to “quickly pass legislation specifically protecting circumcision as a religious practice.”

“The decision by a district court in Cologne, Germany, to deem non-medical circumcision a crime places an intolerable burden on the free exercise of religion by Jews and also by Muslims who practice male circumcision as part of their religious faith,” said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman.

“Germany has dedicated itself to re-building Jewish life, and the consequences of a ban on circumcision would be a devastating blow to the future of the Jewish community. While the ruling by the court in Cologne does not appear to have anti-Semitic intent, its effect is to say ‘Jews are not welcome.’”

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin told Israel Radio that he also believes Germany's parliament should handle the issue legislatively, according to the Jerusalem Post.

“The parliament in Berlin understands the ramifications of the ruling,” said Rivlin.“Not allowing a person to follow his religion opposes every constitution.

Ali Demir, chairman of the Islamic Religious Community, called circumcision a harmless and “highly symbolic” procedure and that banning it could have an adverse on Muslims integrating into German society.

Archaeologists Uncover Gas Chambers at Sobibor Death Camp Archaeologists Uncover Gas Chambers at Sobibor Death Camp TrendingBritish Retailer Bans Jewish Schoolchildren from Entering British Retailer Bans Jewish Schoolchildren from Entering TrendingJustin Trudeau Strongly Opposes Anti-Terror Bill Justin Trudeau Strongly Opposes Anti-Terror Bill Trending
 

Jewish Man High-Fives New Yorkers Hailing Cabs in Hilarious Video

September 18, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Jewish Man High-Fives New Yorkers Hailing Cabs in Hilarious Video

"High Five New York" is the best video you'll watch all day, courtesy of bearded New York-based actor/director Meir Kalmanson

Read More

U.S. Senate Candidate's Campaign Slogan: "With Jews We Lose"

September 18, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
U.S. Senate Candidate's Campaign Slogan: "With Jews We Lose"

Kentucky-based Robert Ransdell has been plastering these offensive signs all over the suburb of Florence

Read More

Digital Torah: The Great Unifier

September 18, 2014 | By Rabbi Naphtali Lavenda
Digital Torah: The Great Unifier

The fusion of technology and traditional Jewish teaching methodologies allows us to send a pure, unified message that brings Jews around the world closer together, perhaps in what we can loosely call 'Hakhel 2.0.'

Read More

Talking Fitness with Lawyers Jeremy Diamond & Jeff Levy

September 18, 2014 | By Jordan Mazza
Talking Fitness with Lawyers Jeremy Diamond & Jeff Levy

We chat with two top Toronto lawyers about how they stave off an "extra winter coat" and strive for that endorphin rush as Canadian weather slides into single digits

Read More

Scottish Jews Prefer to Be Part of the U.K.

September 18, 2014 | By Tali Farkash
Scottish Jews Prefer to Be Part of the U.K.

While Jewish community leaders decide to remain neutral on historic referendum taking place Thursday, many believe independence will lead to a more anti-Semitic and anti-Israel Scotland

Read More

Mayor of Sderot Pays a Visit to UJA Federation of Greater Toronto

September 18, 2014 | By Dan Horowitz
Mayor of Sderot Pays a Visit to UJA Federation of Greater Toronto

"We will continue to work with UJA to make Sderot even stronger and more resilient," expresses Mayor Alon Davidi

Read More

Judd Apatow's 'Love' Is Coming to Netflix

September 17, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Judd Apatow's 'Love' Is Coming to Netflix

The '40 Year Old Virgin' director is returning to his television roots.

Read More

Seinfeld Mourns Loss of Joan Rivers, Tells Fans She Was Scheduled For 'Comedians in Cars'

September 17, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Seinfeld Mourns Loss of Joan Rivers, Tells Fans She Was Scheduled For 'Comedians in Cars'

The late great Rivers was supposed to star on the premiere episode of the next season of 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee'

Read More

More Headlines